Saturday, December 22, 2007

Daily De Profundis for the Dead

The De Profundis (Psalm 129 according to the LXX, Vulgate, and related translations; Psalm 130 in modern Bibles) is one of my favourite psalms.  

From it comes the motto of the Redemptorists: Apud Dominum misericordia, et copiosa apud eum redemptio – "With the Lord there is mercy and fulness of redemption" (v. 7).  [This is also the 4th antiphon for 2nd Vespers of Christmas.]  The psalm is a brief, intense meditation on human redemption: "If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt, Lord who would survive?  But with you is found forgiveness: for this we revere you" (vv. 3-4).  

It is par excellence the psalm to pray for the faithful departed, interpreting it as the plaint of souls in Purgatory ("Out of the depths...  My soul is waiting... is longing for the Lord..."); an old custom is to pray it at 9m, at the tolling of a bell.

In English, I know it according to the Grail version (not the "inclusive" second edition, LOL), since this is what appears in the Divine Office, which I've prayed since 1994; I also long since learnt it in Latin, according to the Vulgate, and this has been reinforced by my switch to praying the 1962 Breviary, since early October this year.  I tend to pray it indifferently in either language, as I do with the Angelus, etc.  (The Rosary is very good in Latin, but it takes a little longer...)

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord, * 
Lord, hear my voice!  
O let your ears be attentive * 
to the voice of my pleading.  
If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt, * 
Lord, who would survive?  
But with you is found forgiveness: * 
for this we revere you.  
My soul is waiting for the Lord, *
I count on his word.  
My soul is longing for the Lord, * 
more than watchman for daybreak.  
Let the watchman count on daybreak * 
and Israel on the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy * 
and fulness of redemption, 
Israel indeed he will redeem * 
from all its iniquity.

If saying this devotionally, as for instance as a prayer of penitence, one would add at least the Glory be; and perhaps Kyrie eleïson, Christe eleïson, Kyrie eleïson, then the Lord's Prayer, etc..  To pray this for the dead, it is traditional to add:

Eternal rest * grant unto them, O Lord, 
and let perpetual light * shine upon them.  (Cf. 4 Esdras ii, 34, 35)

V/.  From the gates of hell,
R/.  Deliver, O Lord, their souls.  (Cf. Isaias xxxviii, 10, 17; Pss 48:16; 85:13; 88:49)
V/.  May they rest in peace.
R/.  Amen.
V/.  O Lord, hear my prayer.
R/.  And let my cry come unto thee.  (Ps 101:2)

Let us pray.

O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, grant unto the souls of Thy servants and handmaids the remission of all their sins, that through our devout supplications they may obtain the pardon they have always desired.  Who livest and reignest world without end.  R/.  Amen.

V/.  Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
R/.  And let perpetual light shine upon them.
V/.  May they rest in peace.
R/.  Amen.

Some get disturbed by the versicle "from the gates of hell", but once one reads the canticle of Ezechias in Isaias xxxviii, 10-20 it becomes clear that this versicle is simply alluding to that Old Testament cry for mercy from one brought nigh unto death.  

The collect is interesting, as it is addressed to God the Son (that's why it ends "Who livest and reignest", not "Thro' Christ our Lord" – never make the mistake of praying to Christ "through Christ", it's heretical!), presumably because it was felt that His saving office was alluded to by calling Him "God... the Redeemer of all the faithful".  

(The same is true of nearly all the Advent collects in the traditional liturgy; tho' research shews them to have originally been ad Patrem, it was felt over time better to consider them as ad Filium, since their calls for God to come were considered to apply to the coming of Christ at Christmas.  The old Gallican (Non-Roman Western) liturgy addressed as many prayers to the Son as to the Father, and once the Roman Rite was adopted by the rest of the West, Gallican influences flowed into the Roman Rite and created the atmosphere whereby such changes in address were made.)

Here is the Latin of the psalm (according to the Gallican Psalter of the Vulgate, as used in the Breviary et al.; the Neo-Vulgate is just slightly different):

De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine: * 
Domine, exaudi vocem meam.
Fiant aures tuæ intendentes: * 
in vocem deprecationis meæ.
Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine: * 
Domine, quis sustinebit?
Quia apud te propitiatio est: * 
et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Domine.
Sustinuit anima mea in verbo ejus: * 
speravit anima mea in Domino.
A custodia matutina usque ad noctem: * 
speret Israël in Domino.
Quia apud Dominum misericordia: * 
et copiosa apud eum redemptio.
Et ipse redimet Israël, *
ex omnibus iniquitatibus ejus.

Note that the Vulgate renders certain phrases differently: "by reason of Thy law I have waited upon Thee, O Lord" (verse 4b); "From the morning watch even until night let Israel hope in the Lord" (verse 6), treating the repetition of the phrase as in the Grail version as dittography.

And the additions pro defunctis:

Requiem æternam * dona eis, Domine.  
Et lux perpetua * luceat eis.  

V/.  A porta inferi,
R/.  Erue, Domine, animas eorum.
V/.  Requiescant in pace.
R/.  Amen.  
V/.  Domine, exaudi orationem meam.  
R/.  Et clamor meus ad te veniat.  


Fidelium, Deus, omnium Conditor et Redemptor: animabus famulorum famularumque tuarum remissionem cunctorum tribue peccatorum; ut indulgentiam, quam semper optaverunt, piis supplicationibus consequantur.  Qui vivis et regnas in sæcula sæculorum.  R/.  Amen.  

V/.  Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine.  
R/.  Et lux perpetua luceat eis.  
V/.  Requiescant in pace.  
R/.  Amen.  

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